ST. LOUIS — Unhappy with sporadic playing time late last season, Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker had his agent inform the club that he’d be open to a trade if it meant a better opportunity to play elsewhere.
His wish was granted Wednesday. And it couldn’t have turned out any better.
The Cardinals returned the Southern California native back home, trading him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a Double-A shortstop prospect Jake Lemmerman.
Schumaker, who fell out of favor with manager Mike Matheny and was rarely used down the stretch, hit .276 and had a .339 on-base percentage in 107 games last season.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed at last week’s winter meetings in Nashville that he was seeking to honor Schumaker’s trade request. The Dodgers surfaced as one of the first teams to show interest.
“On behalf of the entire Cardinals’ organization, I want to thank Skip for his professionalism and many contributions to our ballclub during his 12-year association,” Mozeliak said in a release. “Skip helped provide many great memories for Cardinals fans and we wish he and his family all the best with the Dodgers.”
Late Tuesday night when rumors of the trade first broke, Schumaker updated his Facebook page with a photo of him and his son waving to Cardinals fans during a victory lap around Busch Stadium after they won the World Series in 2011.
Lemmerman, a fifth round pick in the 2010 Draft out of Duke University, hit .285 in three seasons in the Dodgers minor league system. The 23-year-old hit just .233 in 116 games with Double-A Chattanooga last season but had a .347 on-base percentage. The right-handed hitter played for Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifier last month.
Schumaker was a fifth-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2001 and first broke into the big leagues with them in 2005. He has a career .288 batting average in eight major league seasons in St. Louis in 2,442 at-bats.
The left-handed hitting Schumaler attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and still lives in the Los Angeles area in the offseason. The trade reunites him with friend and former hitting coach Mark McGwire, who left the Cardinals to join the Dodgers last month.
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was among those unhappy with the trade, taking to the airwaves of KMOX radio Wednesday night to voice his displeasure over losing one of his closest friends.
“It just makes you sick,” Holliday told KMOX. “It really does. It makes me sick. I love Skip. He’s done a ton for the organization. I know the fans love him and appreciate all he’s done.
“If you just look at the stats, you don’t get the true worth of Skip Schumaker and the contribution that he had towards our team and the organization over the last 10 years. I just can’t say enough about the toughness and the chemistry and the leadership he provided in addition to what he provided on the field.”
Holliday added, “I’m not happy about it at all. Skip is one of my best friends and he and Adam (Wainwright) spend a lot of time on the road together hanging out in our rooms and you lose a player yes, but that quality time that you get to spend together with your friends on the road, you don’t have it anymore.”
Schumaker transformed into an adequate option at second base prior to the 2009 season but saw little to no playing time there down the stretch in 2012. Matheny went with the better defensive option in Dan Descalso despite him struggling much more at the plate.
Cardinals fans and media alike wondered why Schumaker wasn’t getting more playing time late in the season despite his stronger numbers at the plate. Matheny once became agitated during a pregame chat with reporters in which a series of repeated questions were asked about why Schumaker wasn’t playing.
Schumaker has one year remaining on a two-year, $3 million deal signed last winter.